Daf Yomi

For the week ending 19 September 2009 / 29 Elul 5769

Bava Batra 30 - 36

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • A dispute over whether the one in the house is an owner or squatter
  • Is encouraging a buyer to purchase your property from a squatter proof that you sold to the squatter
  • Can one correct an earlier claim made in court
  • The status of witnesses whose testimony was contradicted by other witnesses
  • The problem of a court reversing a ruling based on new testimony
  • The claimant who admits that the document he presented to prove his case was invalid
  • The dispute between the debtor and the guarantor
  • The claim against orphaned minors
  • The dispute as to who was the closest relative and entitled to inherit property
  • Status of the crops consumed by a squatter whose claim to ownership is refuted
  • The mystery of the stolen silver
  • Settling a dispute over ownership of a ship
  • Protecting ownership of a field rented to sharecropper
  • If unprotested plowing proves purchase of a field
  • Dispute over ownership of mobile property

Can We Believe Them

  • Bava Batra 31b

Two pairs of witnesses in a financial lawsuit contradict the testimony of one another. The testimony of neither has any credibility because we have no way of knowing which of them is telling the truth and which is lying. What about the credibility of either pair in regard to future testimony in financial cases?

The position of Rabbi Huna is that as long as each pair testifies alone in that next case we can accept their testimony. Although there is the possibility that they were the liars in the earlier case and therefore disqualified as witnesses, we cannot, on the basis of doubt, challenge their chazakah (status) as kosher witnesses.

An opposing position is taken by Rabbi Chisda who asks, "How can we have anything to do with witnesses who are liars?" His approach is also based on the concept of chazakah, but this time the status referred to is that of the money that the testimony of the suspected witnesses will affect. In matters of doubt we apply the rule of status quo, in that we cannot rule on the ownership of contested money on the basis of witnesses who may indeed be liars.

What the Sages Say

"If someone declares that he is going to take some dates from another's tree which he claims he purchased, we believe his claim because no one has the audacity to eat the fruit which belongs to someone else."

  • Rabbi Yehuda - Bava Batra 33b

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